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In conversation since 1991: Christmann and Hector

Dr Ludwig Christmann

By Christopher Hector
Photography: Ros Neave

Dr Ludwig Christmann was the person who introduced me to the world of warmblood breeding. The Hanoverian Verband has been the leader in so many ways - in the style of horse bred and in marketing that product, but it has also led the field when it came to public relations....

Which is how I found myself touring Lower Saxony as part of an English-language study group led by Ludwig Christmann back in 1991.
It was a fabulous tour through the countryside of Lower Saxony, going to the local mare shows, visiting the local breeding stations – deckstations – with their two or three stallions, and being entertained by the local – male – breeding community; seems the women were out back in the kitchens then.
At that time, the head of the State Stud Celle had godlike powers, and he allocated the stallions to the different breeding areas, and the local breeders mostly accepted his choice. It was well before the days of chilled semen, let alone frozen, so breeders had no real alternative. It meant that the mare populations of the various districts were extremely concentrated, with the likelihood that if a stallion clicked with one mare, he was likely to click with most.
The mare shows were a bit of a shock. Whereas in Australia our horse shows had at least half an eye on entertaining an audience, these local German shows followed a strict and unchanging formula: Classes for two-, three-, and four-year-olds, plus a combined five- and six-year-old class, and finally a family class – sometimes three sisters, sometimes a mother and two daughters, or grandmother, mother and daughter.
Everyone was deadly serious and at the end, even if there were 40 mares in the class, they would all be rearranged and ranked from best to worst on the circle, and each and every mare was critically evaluated by a member of the commission in front of the audience. Even more amazing to my Aussie eyes, was that during a whole series of shows, only one mare owner registered dissent.
Each area had its own character, its own distinct line of horse, and the locals were fiercely proud of their stallions, their best products. It was an experience I will never forget.
At the time, the Weltmeyer star had just appeared on the horizon, while Hanover tried to ignore the other dressage star, the Oldenburg one, Donnerhall... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber